Plans for emergency 24-hour clinic restricted

HEALTH MEC Pumza Dyantyi has been told that her plan for a 24-hour emergency clinic to lighten the load on Livingstone Hospital’s casualty unit in Port Elizabeth cannot work at the moment due to logistics and staff issues.

Last month, Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo promised that new measures to address patient congestion at the unit would be implemented by the end of this month.

Now it seems that patients will have to wait a bit longer. Kupelo said thatduring a meeting with Dyantyi in Port Elizabeth last week, officials from the district office told the MEC they could not open the Gateway Clinic at the Korsten Community Health Centre for 24 hours a day at this stage.

“They asked that we start with 12 hours as they are still trying to sort out logistics and staff issues,” Kupelo said.

He said the Department of Health hoped the clinic’s hours could eventually be extended until it could be open 24 hours a day.

A promise that an empty block of wards at Livingstone, known as P-block, would be reopened and used for patients who needed to be admitted for observation, treatment, tests or surgery – but could not be accommodated in the wards because of a shortage of beds – has also not yet been realised.

Kupelo said the fact that staff were turning patients away from Livingstone and sending them to Dora Nginza because of where they lived was totally out of order.

“There is no new method of referral. We are encouraging patients who experience problems like this to contact our 24-hour toll-free line on 0800032364.” – Estelle Ellis

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